Thursday, 4 August 2011

while i should have been sketching....

i'm leaving Vancouver for an extended period of time (hopefully not forever), and the last week of beautiful weather afforded too much temptation to run around basking in all the green spaces and green architecture. i should have taken my sketchbook, but.... what can i say? like every other child of the Age of Tech-uarias,  i love taking photos.

i wish i could say i knew what i was doing with the camera, but alas, my beloved Nikon FM film camera is on its last legs, and i have not had the time nor money to "go digital". so i was stuck with my parents' little digi-snapshot camera, and it's total lack of focal or aperture control, and can't claim any responsibility for my dilettante attempts at photography turning out well. Vancouver is just that innately photogenic.

still, i cannot believe i managed to get some of these pictures. hooray for serendipity!

the best:

the rest:

i'm going to have to start saving up for a real camera.....

Monday, 25 July 2011

Character Illustration

I recently completed a concept illustration commission of the main character in author Brant Forseng's upcoming fantasy novel. Mr. Forseng provided me with world and plot description, as well as detailed notes on Lady Merreth's character and appearance. Mr. Forseng gave me exact guidelines about how he wanted Merreth to look (so helpful!), but I otherwise had total creative control over the image elements, and it was a blast to work on the image.

This was my first commission as an artist and I wanted to do a really good job! I'd like to thank my previous digital concept instructor, Stephen Pearce, for all his input, advice, and encouragement.

Both the story and figure of Lady Merreth are extremely intriguing to me, and I'm looking forward to being able to read the book when it's published.  I hope I've done the character justice! Mr. Forseng doesn't have a site up yet for the book, but I will link it as soon as there is for my fellow fantasy bookworms.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

keeping the sketch-ability fit as a fiddle....

On a recent trip home to Houston, I caught a performance by Two Star Symphony, the string quartet who agreed to grace my final animation piece with their amazing music.


The sun agreed to grace Vancouver recently, so here are some sketches (best excuse to go outside on a great day!)

 And speaking of great days, if only I was always as 'on' as I was in my most recent life drawing class (I'm especially happy with the drawing on the right - it has the dynamism I struggle to get in longer poses).

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy Easter

Easter was traditionally the biggest holiday in Greece, until the advent of trans-global consumerism and Santa.  The halo - the perfect circle - represented life eternal, and 'Oon' and the letters *omega*omicron*ni* are often inscribed in the halos on the icons of Christ in Greek Orthodox churches. 'Oon' was the ancient word for egg (hence Ova, OOcyte, etc, in modern biological terms), and it's traditional to eat eggs dyed dark red to symbolize the blood of Christ.

On the other hand, the original Germanic story of little Red Riding Hood was all about death, or at least the perils of reproduction. Upon meeting Riding Hood in the forest, the wolf inquires whether she will go to Grandmother's house via the 'path of pins or needles'. Some say that the 'path of needles' is a medieval metaphor for prostitution, the path of pins a metaphor for a girl's coming of age, and the Wolf a metaphor for the deadliness of STDs and childbirth.

So two very asymmetric influences on the image below, which works, since it was originally a Visual Narrative class assignment on the use of balance or asymmetry to convey mood.

Either way, it reminds me of what's really important this time of year - Cadbury cream-filled eggs.  Yum.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Happy BP-day!

So, apparently BP wrote off the clean-up costs of the Gulf Coast devastation as a $32 billion tax liability, and are now receiving a $13 Billion tax break from the U.S. government. I remember when the oil tankers spilled off of Galveston and we used to come back from the beach covered in tar for years. We rubbed on sunscreen before we got in the water, and turpentine after we got out. Of course, Galveston has been so overbuilt that it's literally sinking into the ocean and they actively pump sand up from the sea bed to keep any beach at all. Now, BP isn't actively responsible for Galveston's crud, but they did have two fatal refinery accidents within the space of two or three years in the Houston suburbs, and the second was so loud we heard it in the center of town.

This is from a term I Visual narrative assignment to design a monster or zombie, a cute character, and a hero character for a video game.  It's a whole year old, but somehow it still feels fresh to me. Is it summer yet? I'm hitting the beach. Please pass the turpentine.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


Storyboarding for animation was a very 'unlearn bad habits' process for me. I used to storyboard live action projects of mine all the time prior to shooting and editing, but the nature of the beast never required me to draw out every glance, head swivel, phase of a reaction, flick of an elbow, etc. It was mainly a way for me to mentally orchestrate the actors and sets with the dynamic moving camera shots I love to employ.

So, I had to learn to be rigorous when showing my animated character's thoughts and actions.... Now if only I can force myself not to add the rack-focus-backwards-dolly shot or the high-angle close up to low-medium-wide shot, at least not while the characters are moving.....

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

long poses


I don't have a great attachment to reality, and sketching is initially a bit like pulling teeth for me because I have to pay attention to the world outside of my own little one. but eventually the whole game of pencil spying on people becomes kind of addictive.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Demo Reel 2011

This is what I consider my strongest work after a year of learning classical animation. I am trying to learn Toon Boom / Animate Pro now and perhaps eventually some Flash, and will update accordingly. In the meantime, for non-Hellenes, the hand gesture made by one of the characters at the end of the reel is not dirty, merely rude. The line written in Greek is pronounced "KRA ta ta psee LA"; I opted not to overlay the recorded line as it didn't mix well with the music, but it is technically a lip sync scene.

I started out with a fairly ambitious storyline for the final piece presented on the reel, and would like to thank my instructors, Wayne Gilbert, Charles Phillips, and especially Mark Pudleiner for reigning in my 'even-the-kitchen-sink' narrative predilections and helping me decide where to judiciously apply limited animation techniques so that I could actually have a good finished piece at the end of 11 weeks. It may not be 100% classical animation, but it is 100% neo-classical, or at least Greco-classical. ('Cuz no one can reign in my predilection for bad puns).

And as for the 'crazy camera angles' - yes, I now realize that a film/video background does not always translate directly to hand drawn animation in terms of mis-en-scene and dynamic camera (unless you're James Baxter).  But that doesn't mean the envelope shouldn't be pushed - it just means I need to work even harder. Although it doesn't really feel like work.... I love animating! 

Sophia Vassilakidis Character Animation Reel 2011 from Sophia Vassilakidis on Vimeo.

Sunday, 27 March 2011


This is perhaps one of my favorite projects. I really wish I could put it on my reel, but as is there are some volume issues in Granny's head that should be fixed, and a couple of my instructors insist that my Munch homage throws the acting. But I like my spry little butt-burying biddy, and really.....

ZOMG! from Sophia Vassilakidis on Vimeo.

..... you can't argue with Zombie Elvis.

Although it would be nice if flipbook didn't composite more than 2 levels into visual mud. 

Friday, 25 March 2011


      Sophia Vassilakidis      832-244-7000                                                       
Spring 2010 – Spring 2011:  Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts) :
·          2D Character Animation Diploma
Spring 1998 – Spring 2001: University of Texas at Austin
·          B.S. in Radio-TV-Film with Honors - University of Texas at Austin
·          Inducted into the UT Junior Fellows Program, 2000
·          Radio-TV-Film coursework included short Fish Out of Water,
           screened at Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2001
Fall 1997 - Fall 1998: Reed College, Portland, Oregon
Fall 1993 – Spring 1997: Houstons High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Visual major
·          National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist

Relevant Experience
As an independent film co-producer, Hardball: All Balls Dont Bounce,  2006 - 2011
·          Helped raise $70,000 from private investors to fund independent feature film
·          Scouted and negotiated the use of locations, including high-security shipping ports, Texas     
           monuments, and high-customer restaurants
·          Issued casting calls and auditions for over 90 actors; maintained cast, crew, and vendor contacts and spearheaded production email blasts
·          scheduled and coordinated on-location shoots involving multiple actors and crew,  and oversaw 
           wardrobe, props, and equipment
·          Planned scene budgets and tracked production finances
·          Created promotional materials and maintained film website
·          Substitute Boom,  2nd camera, assistant editor
·          Created & Designed DVD menus, packaging, and content

·          2009 DarHart Screenplay Awards, 1st Place feature winner for Rose Marie's Egg
·          Lucky Strike, DV short, 2003. Vassily Fedyaev Digital Filmmaking Workshop.
                 Director, 2nd camera operator, assistant editor
·          F***, 16mm short, 2000. UT Austin Film Program, producer & script editing
·          Fish Out of Water, 16mm short, 2000. UT Austin, producer & script editor
·          Tension, 16mm short, 1999. UT Austin. Scripting, storyboards, editing
·          Five Seconds, DV short documentary, 1999. UT Austin. Camera, boom, editing, scripting
·          A Doll's House, in studio 3-camera short, 1999. UT Austin. Director  

Production Assistant
·          RWJF Public Health “Tobacco Policy Change”,  2009. DeSantis Breindel
·          Foreman Family, Reality Series, 2006. Zoe & Sammy Productions, Inc.
·          The Whisperers, HD feature, 2005. Excalibur Pictures, Producer Ashok Rao
·          Vassily Fedyaev Digital Fimmaking Studio, 2005. assistant videographer
·          Einstein Scribbles, DV short, 2004. Marjo Productions
·          Family Portrait, 35mm feature, 2004. Chadda Productions
·          Mr. Hell, 35mm feature, 2004. Jack Rhodes Productions
·          After Twilight, 35mm short, 2004. Roadster Productions
·          Manhood is Dead, DV feature, 2002. Dizzystick Films 

Interim Post Production Manager, Locke Bryan Productions, 2005
·          assigned projects to editors and scheduled editing sessions with clients
·          maintained a comfortable work environment for visiting clients and guest editors
·          prepared client request reports for the billing department and ensured on-time project  delivery
·          maintained editing equipment stock levels and dubbed client requests
·          assisted with basic editing on AVID equipment

Local News Volunteer Reporter, KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, March 2004 – 06
·          Interviewed story subjects, scripted story copy, edited and recorded story and quotes
·          Converted and edited press news stories for on-air format and contacted related local officials for pertinent quotes on same day basis

Other Work Experience
Continental Airlines – Ticketing & Gate Agent, 2007 - present
·          assist a high volume of customers from all social backgrounds, including non-English speakers,    disabled and special needs, and unescorted minors
·          maintain the ability to think on one's feet and coordinate with other operational  divisions in a 
           time sensitive, high security environment

Talent Agent, Pam Francis Photography/ Real People Models, 2006-2007
·          Scouted individuals for Real People Models Agency
·          collected and maintained talent and client contact information and permission waivers
·          edited images and information for Real People Models online database
·          received client requests, scripted casting calls, and contacted applicable models 

Assistant Manager, Planet Anime 2002 – 2005
·          Provided customer service, product inventory and ordering, arranged store layout, 
           created customer promotions and incentives
·          Editor to store's online product review site - creator of store web comic
·          Related skills: able to read Japanese Hiragana/Katakana

Other Knowledge and Skills:
         Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Vegas Sound Editor
         Greek: daily conversational level, able to read and write 

Jerry Ochoa, Producer
Street Legal Productions

Wayne Gilbert,  Head of Animation

Mark Pudleiner, Animation Instructor

Thursday, 24 March 2011

crude gestures

gesture is one of my favorite drawing exercises, because the looser, faster, rougher, and more vigorous i draw, the better the stuff looks. gesturing is kind of like independent film-production, where your brain just kicks into 'go, go, go, go!' problem solving in real-time mode. (look ma, it's a shameless plug for the movie i produced in my past life! if you like DIY cinema, action, hot chicks, and tongue in cheek humor, please buy our movie! our actors really need the love, and we really need the return on our life savings).

these are from early term II.

term III .

term IV. didn't realize it, but i actually have improved.

how to smash a roach

one of the first exercises i consider really successful. i should probably put a roach in there and squash it when the mallet comes down, just for entertainment value, but as a native Houstonian.....i really, really, really hate roaches. i can't even bring myself to draw them. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

kids love robots!

1st term drawing project - design a robot with an actual function, using basic shapes. apparently the UN is having trouble eradicating polio in some regions because parents believe the inoculations are a sterilization conspiracy. i bet if you made the innoculator a big, lovable robot, kids would sneak away from home and school to get a shot. 


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Baby Steps

i'm taking a part-time digital concept art class through my school while i still have a chance. i've used photoshop extensively to fix photos and create various graphics, but i have never digitally painted, and never before used a wacom or any other type of tablet. i love it, and the instructor is awesome, but several people in the class are so phenomenal that a voice in my head starts telling me i should just become an accountant. luckily, i'm so stubborn i don't even listen to the voices in my head. 

this is my first completed project from that class. my buildings are not as sleekly sci-fi as some of my classmates, but i really like how the foreground structure turned out, and think Harry & David should show me the money to design their home offices in the same fashion. mmmmm, pears.

this is another color variation. i dig how.... gaudy it is.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

testing the water

this online thing is not my forte. i find trying to communicate with theoretical total strangers ties my tongue, so please forgive any terseness, or alternately, flailing ramblings about my experience learning animation. 

i just completed my grad project yesterday at vanarts in traditional 2d animation. i intend to refine it some so i won't post it just yet, but here is one of my term 2 exercises, a wind walk. i know it's not perfect, but looking at it now i still feel that i managed to capture a good sense of weight and balance, and it feels fairly fluid without being 'rotoscopy'. (that was a word thrown at some of my first projects, and i've been working to improve my timing to make things livelier since then).